Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open it up.
But you can’t. For the good of all people.
The physical doors are shut.
“Flattening the curve” is our Christian responsibility at this time. We are doing that, right now, with the doors of the church, closed.
Because Trinity Episcopal Church is so much more than a recognizable large pink church on Jackson Avenue. Our mission says nothing about our building defining us. No, “Church”, in this sense, is our people. “Inspired by Christ, Trinity Episcopal Church strives to love our neighbors, do justice, and walk humbly with God.” We are the church, wherever we may be.
As Episcopalians, we make promises, and take them seriously, at Baptism. At each new baptism, we remember the vows we made. To share the Good News of God in Christ. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To respect the dignity of every human being.
Our first concern right now isn’t how are we going to have church during quarantine. Our core mission, virus or none, is to be the church. For the sake of those who are healthy, and for the sake of those who are vulnerable. Because we are the church.
The earliest followers of Jesus, who were known as The Way, needed to call themselves something. “Church” wasn’t a thing yet. So they used the Greek word ekklesia, which already meant a public gathering of people. During this pandemic, we see the first definition of church, that of a public gathering of people, made impossible. That has not stopped us from being the church.
Our spiritual health is intricately connected to our physical and emotional health. We will continue to grieve not being able to meet together. It is jarring to miss a single Sunday in person together.
We as the church have not suspended worship--only the physical assembly in one location. We, the church, have not given up on prayer. Far from it. I send and receive prayer requests via text, email, Facebook and Instagram. The Gospel--good news--continues to be preached. Because surrounded by catastrophic news, the church will find ways to share good news as often and as widely as we can.
Right now, there are calls to be made to parishioners who live alone. A much wider network of prayer partners being put into place. Good old fashioned phone trees put to work. Soon our Bible Studies will be conference calls and our Confirmation class will be a video meeting.
There are actually many open doors to the church. Because we represent several hundred homes with doors into the church.
For the foreseeable future, I will experience church online and over the phone and in my living room. The Church, is a people, transformed by love, offering love, each and every way it can during this outbreak. Remember this and share the good news.